Released On 31st Mar 2023
Planting In Your Garden – Prepare And Succeed
Do you ever look out at your garden and wonder why your plants aren’t doing well this year? You’ve planted, watered and fed them just as you should, but this time something just isn’t working. It’s a very common problem, and we see it all the time in the gardens we take over care of. The problem is that just sowing seeds or planting into ‘dead dirt’ just won’t cut it. Plants need a nutrient-dense diet, which means good-quality soil. The hardiest of plants might survive, but nothing will really thrive unless you prepare your garden for planting. So here are 3 steps to help you prepare your garden and make sure your plants don’t just survive but thrive.
Seasonal Soil Check
The soil in your garden is as much a part of your garden as the plants, which means it needs just as much care as your pants. It’s a give-and-take relationship, and since your plants do a lot of taking nutrients from the soil, you need to give some back. Otherwise, your soil will eventually run out of nutrients, which will lead to struggling plants. So if your plants aren’t growing well, you probably need a nutrient top-up.
We recommend doing a soil health check every year before planting season. When you do this, you’re looking at soil structure, pH imbalances or a lack of nutrients – which look like dry, clumpy, pale soil. If you can, grab yourself a soil pH testing kit and check this too. Generally, you want a neutral pH range, or slightly acidic if you’re growing fruit or vegetables. If your soil looks unhealthy, it’s time to give it a refresh.
Feed Your Soil
Think of your soil as the cupboards in your kitchen. It has the potential to store a bountiful supply of food that allows your plants to eat well and healthily – if you fill it up and keep it stocked. But if you keep taking food out without replacing it, one day your plants will be hungry and there will be no food left to eat. That’s a bit of a long metaphor, but essentially you need to make sure you’re restocking the nutrients in the soil frequently so that your plants have a good supply of food. If you don’t, they can get stressed, stop growing, become more susceptible to pests and diseases and even die off.
The type of minerals you will need to add to your soil depends on what you’re growing, and what type of soil you have. A few ways you can put nutrients back into your soil is to add things like:
- Rock minerals
- Worm castings
- Organic soil conditioners or improvers
- Blood, fish & bone
All of these options contain the three main nutrients that plants need for growth – Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium. Adding these conditioners to your soil each season will encourage healthier growth for your plants.
Add Water & Mulch
Finally, the soil should be moist and able to retain water before you sow anything in it. If your soil has been out of nutrients for a while then it can become hydrophobic, meaning it actively repels water. If this is the case, you will need to test if it’s holding water. You can do this by putting some of your soil into a pot, and then submerging it in water until all of the bubbles stop coming to the surface. Then lift the pot up and count the seconds before drips run out of the bottom. If they come out quickly, then the soil isn’t holding moisture well and you still have work to do. The best way to increase your soil’s moisture content (and make sure it can hold moisture properly) is to soak it, and then add a thick layer of compost as insulation. After some time fork the soil over, and test it again.
When you have healthy, nutrient-dense soil, you’re ready to sow seeds and plant, safe in the knowledge that your plants will grow strong and healthy. Like many other things in life, maintaining a beautiful garden is all about planning! At CMA Garden Design we handle the planning phases of gardening within our maintenance packages, so you never have to worry about the state of your soil or plants again. If you’d like to find out more about our garden maintenance services, just get in touch with the team today.